August 31, 2020
Day 244 of 366
August 31st is the 244th day of the year. It is Independence Day in multiple countries today, including Kyrgyzstan (from the Soviet Union in 1991), Malaya (from the United Kingdom in 1957), and Trinidad and Tobago (from the United Kingdom in 1962).
Historical items of note:
- In 1888, Mary Ann Nichols was murdered. She was the first of Jack the Ripper’s confirmed victims.
- In 1895, German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin patented his “navigable balloon”.
- In 1897, Thomas Edison patented the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.
- In 1928, actor James Coburn was born.
- In 1935, in an attempt to stay out of the growing tensions concerning Germany and Japan, the United States passed the first of its Neutrality Acts.
- In 1936, Radio Prague, now the official international broadcasting station of the Czech Republic, went on the air.
- In 1939, Nazi Germany mounted a false flag attack on the Gleiwitz radio station, creating an excuse to attack Poland the following day, thus starting World War II in Europe.
- In 1943, USS Harmon (DE-678) was commissioned. It was the first United States Navy ship to be named after a black person.
- In 1949, actor and producer Richard Gere was born.
- In 1962, voice actor Dee Bradley Baker was born.
- In 1971, actor and comedian Chris Tucker was born.
- In 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, her companion Dodi Fayed, and driver Henri Paul died in a car crash in Paris.
August 31st is National Language Day in Moldova. Locally, it is known as Limba noastră, which literally translates to “Our Language”.
On August 27, 1989, the Popular Front of Moldova organized a mass demonstration in Chişinău, that became known as the Great National Assembly. It pressured the authorities of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic to adopt a language law on August 31, 1989, which proclaimed the Moldovan language written in the Latin script to be the state language of the MSSR. Its identity with the Romanian language was also established.
On June 23, 1990, the Moldovan Parliament established August 31st as a national language day. During the celebration, the main square of Chişinău holds a concert featuring performances of various national entertainers, and since the country’s Independence Day celebrations take place just days before, they keep the stage up from August 27th through this observance.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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